This morning I began preparing my daughters for college, even though they're only three and six years old, by serving leftover pizza for breakfast. They were delighted. In fact, if any of you are in the area, stop by. It seems like we have enough leftovers to feed 500.
Last night my colleague James Suckling, who lives in Tuscany, stopped by for a casual dinner at my villa. He had a little trouble finding the place, so I had to drive down to the bottom of the hill and show him the way up.
“Helping James Suckling find his way in Tuscany—now that’s a blog entry,” I chided.
“This isn’t Tuscany, this is Albania,” he quipped about our rural locale.
After knocking back a few bottles of Panizzi Vernaccia di San Gimignano, we quickly pulled the corks on some bottles that he brought: Querciabella Toscana Camartina 2004, Tua Rita Syrah Toscana 2005, Bibi Graetz Toscana Testamatta 2004 and Fattoria Petrolo Toscana Galatrona 2004.
From his selections, it was obvious he was pulling out all the stops to try and convert me into a Tuscan wine lover. The wines were all super fresh and elegant, with racy structures that were perfectly meshed with their respective fruit profiles. I particularly dug the Bibi Graetz and Tua Rita, which were both distinctive and very long. I can see why the Petrolo Galatrona is a hot wine, too—it’s about as good as Merlot can get. As for whether or not the conversion was a success, I'll have to hold back on that for now.
Before Suckling came over yesterday, we visited San Gimignano. Today we went to Bolgheri. If there were ever to be a case study on how you shouldn't judge a book by its cover (or pre-conceived notions), these areas would make the perfect subjects.
I couldn't wait to see the beautiful town of San Gimignano and walk along its small, charming, narrow streets. But as I walked through the large stone archway into town, my heart sank. The streets were lined with cookie-cutter porcelain shops and enoteca, all selling the same items. For example, a store with martial arts equipment (swords, knives and toy guns loaded up in its window) was followed by several other stores with the same items. Simply put, it was a disgusting display.
The main piazza, on the other hand, has some of its charm left, and lunch at Ristorante Bel Soggiorno was good. The menu was very limited but the wine list was solid, and the restaurant offers a beautiful view of the hillsides.
As we were walking out of town in the early afternoon, tour bus after tour bus was unloading at the city gates, and swarms of people were entering the town. They all seemed taken by the banal shops. It was a sad state of affairs for what should be a beautiful spot in the heart of Tuscany.
|Unlike some parts of Tuscany, Bolgheri still has charm.|